Adapted from the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibañez, a man is not able to leave his mother's influence to follow a beautiful woman who becomes an opera star.
In Valencia the barber Cupido (Lucien Littlefield) shaves Pedro Moreno (Edward Connelly) and instructs Leonora Moreno (Greta Garbo) how to sing. Doña Bernarda Brull (Martha Mattox) comes for the mortgage and tells them they must leave, except Pepa Morena (Lucy Beaumont) can stay and scrub. Don Rafael Brull (Ricardo Cortez) and Leonora meet in the garden and plan to marry when he gets his mother's consent. Pedro says they will go to Paris, and Leonora sends a note to Rafael. Bernarda objects to his seeing Leonora. Pepa and Cupido give Leonora valuable gifts as she leaves.
Years later Leonora is the opera star La Brunna in Paris. Rafael runs for Congress and asks Remedios Matias (Gertrude Olmstead) to marry. At a nightclub Leonora gives a black singer money and tells Salvatti she is going home. Her mother Pepa welcomes her, and Leonora gives her presents. Rafael is elected deputy. Leonora plays her record for Cupido. Rafael gives a victory speech and sees Leonora. Bernarda and Don Matias (Mack Swain) negotiate the dowry. Rafael asks Cupido about Leonora, and he learns that she is the famous La Brunna.
The next day Rafael is with Remedios and his mother, but he hears Leonora singing. She laughs, and he runs back to Remedios in the rain. In a flooded house Cupido suggests they go to the Brull house. The dam is breaking, and Rafael goes with Cupido to rescue Leonora. Their boat capsizes, and they swim. They find her reading, and she gives them dry clothes. Rafael admits he loves Leonora and that she is beautiful. She shows him beautiful things men have given her, and he leaves.
Rafael and Remedios celebrate their betrothal. He goes to the garden, and Leonora comes out. Rafael kisses her, and she suggests they go to America. Rafael buys orange blossoms, but Don Andrés warns him his mother will die. Leonora asks the King to help Rafael's career. Andrés persuades Rafael to stay with those who elected him. Leonora gets a note and asks God why she can't hate him.
Years go by, and Rafael comes to see her. He looks older, and she sees his wedding ring. He has children but says he is missing love. Leonora has to go on for the last act. Remedios shows Rafael their sleeping children and takes off his shoes. Leonora takes a taxi, and a woman says she has everything and must be happy.
In this romantic drama the lovers are pulled apart by
their different lives while longing for that romantic union they
both tried to satisfy in other ways.